Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Diocese of Richmond
Dioecesis Richmondiensis
Diocese of richmond.png
Country  United States
Territory Central and Southern Virginia, as well as the Eastern Shore of Virginia
Ecclesiastical province Baltimore
Metropolitan Baltimore
Area 36,711 sq mi (95,080 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2015)
236,061 (4.7%)
Parishes 142
Schools 28
Denomination Catholic Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established July 11, 1820 (197 years ago)
Cathedral Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
Patron saint St. Vincent de Paul
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Barry C. Knestout
Metropolitan Archbishop William E. Lori
Diocese of Richmond map 1.jpg
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond
Catholic "church on wheels" in Richmond, 1955

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond (Latin: Dioecesis Richmondiensis) is an episcopal see or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Its current territory encompasses all of central and southern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and the Eastern Shore. It is a ceremonial suffragan of the ecclesiastical province of Baltimore, from which its territory was taken.

Currently, there are 236,061 active Catholics and 142 parishes that are part of the Diocese of Richmond. The diocese currently has 87 active priests, 59 retired priests, 115 permanent deacons, 6 religious brothers, 139 religious sisters of Catholic religious orders and 25 seminarians. There are 28 diocesan Catholic schools in the diocese, with a total enrollment of 12,062 students in 6 high schools and 22 elementary schools.[1]

The diocese's current Bishop is Barry C. Knestout, who was appointed by Pope Francis on December 5, 2017.[2] He was installed to the position on January 12, 2018.[3]


Prior to the American Revolution, few Catholics lived in colonial Virginia. Anti-Catholic laws discouraged the faithful from settling in that area.[4] It was not until the passage of Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786 that Catholics were free to worship openly in the commonwealth. The Diocese of Richmond was canonically erected by Pope Pius VII on July 11, 1820.

The new Diocese of Wheeling was formed by splitting off the western part of this diocese in 1850, and that same year, this diocese received the small area which had been retroceded from the District of Columbia in 1846. The Civil War led to formation of the state of West Virginia, but the boundary between that state and Virginia did not coincide with the boundary of the Wheeling and Richmond dioceses. The two eastern-shore counties were transferred to the new Diocese of Wilmington in 1868, leaving Virginia split between three dioceses. In 1974, Virginia and West Virginia dioceses were realigned so that West Virginia was a diocese by itself and Virginia had the Richmond diocese and the new Arlington diocese, both in their entirety.



  1. Patrick Kelly (August 24, 1820 – February 9, 1822)
  2. Richard Vincent Whelan (December 19, 1840 – Jul 23, 1850)
  3. John McGill (July 23, 1850 – January 14, 1872)
  4. James Gibbons (July 30, 1872 – May 20, 1877)
  5. John Joseph Keane (March 28, 1878 – August 12, 1888)
  6. Augustine Van de Vyver (July 16, 1889 – October 16, 1911)
  7. Denis Joseph O'Connell (January 19, 1912 – January 15, 1926)
  8. Andrew James Louis Brennan (May 28, 1926 – April 14, 1945)
  9. Peter Leo Ireton (April 14, 1945 – April 27, 1958)
  10. John Joyce Russell (July 3, 1958 – April 28, 1973)
  11. Walter Francis Sullivan (June 4, 1974 – September 16, 2003)
  12. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo (May 24, 2004 – August 17, 2017)
  13. Barry Christopher Knestout (January 12, 2018 – present)

Auxiliary bishops[edit]

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops[edit]

Notable people[edit]

  • Servant of God Francis J. Parater (1897–1920), seminarian and candidate for canonization

Knights of Columbus[edit]

The Knights of Columbus has several councils in the Richmond Diocese. The Knights serve parish and communities throughout both dioceses in the Commonwealth. One of the best known services is the KOVAR drive which raises money for assisting Virginians with intellectual disabilities.[5]

High schools[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of the Diocese & Diocesan Statistics". Diocese of Richmond. Archived from the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  2. ^ "Bishop Barry Knestout tapped to lead the diocese of Richmond". Retrieved 2017-12-05. 
  3. ^ "Bishop-designate Barry C. Knestout". Retrieved 2017-12-05. 
  4. ^ Horvat, Marian T. (25 January 2006). "Let None Dare Call it Liberty: The Catholic Church in Colonial America". Tradition in Action. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  5. ^ "KOVAR". Virginia Knights of Columbus. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°32′50.8″N 77°27′07.7″W / 37.547444°N 77.452139°W / 37.547444; -77.452139